Atletico Madrid maintained their 100 per cent home record in the Primera Division this season by beating Espanyol 1-0 thanks to a first-half Radamel Falcao penalty.
Diego Simeone's side had to play the whole of the second half with just 10 men after Gabi was sent off on the stroke of half-time, but their defence, which has now kept eight clean sheets in the row at the Vicente Calderon, was rarely troubled by a timid and impotent Espanyol.
Below them, Real Betis got their European bid back on track in emphatic fashion after hitting high-flying Andalusian rivals Malaga with a first-half blitz at the Benito Villamarin stadium as they won 3-0.
Jorge Molina opened the scoring inside the first 30 seconds and further goals from Mario and Dorlan Pabon increased Betis' lead before the interval.
The hosts even had the luxury of missing 35th-minute penalty through Molina as they comfortably picked up their first victory in six matches to climb back up to seventh spot on 39 points.
Fourth-placed Malaga also had Nacho Camacho sent off in the 63rd minute on what was a miserable night for Manuel Pellegrini's Champions League participants.
Also at the top end of the table, Rayo Vallecano's ambitions for Europa League qualification suffered a blow as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Real Valladolid.
The visitors took a second-half lead thanks to an own goal by Jordi Amat, who then scored an outstanding goal at the other end to equalise.
However, Manucho fired Miroslav Djukic's side in front once more on 79 minutes.
In the day's other game, new Celta Vigo coach Abel Resino enjoyed a perfect start to his spell in charge of the club with a hard-fought win over former club Granada.
Iago Aspas gave the home side the lead on 24 minutes and although that goal was soon cancelled out by Odion Ighalo, Mario Bermejo grabbed the winner nine minutes from the end.
Resino was named as Paco Herrera's successor on Monday and inherited a club in the relegation zone, four points from safety and without a win in their last six league games.
And although they remain in the bottom three, today's three points means they are now just two behind Real Zaragoza in 17th.Reuse content